I was in the final Guild Wars 2 beta this last weekend and I only took screen shots once (but I always take extras “just in case”! So you get a whole whopping TWO screen shots in this post.) I apologize in advance for the wall of text. I’m not generally a gaming blogger, so taking screen shots was the last thing on my mind. As a rule, I also don’t get involved in very many beta opportunities. I would rather experience and explore everything when it’s fresh, new and READY.
An Exception to Every Rule:
I’ve seen rumblings about Guild Wars 2 for about half a year. I casually asked my husband what it was all about and he said that based on everything he had seen, it was primarily focused on PvP. If any of you know me at all, you know I do not PvP. So, we both ignored it indefinitely as yet another MMO that wouldn’t be worth our time to try. Neither of us are into trying every single game out there, so we’re very choosy on which ones we give a chance.
Last week, with the final beta weekend coming up, GW2 was being talked about by a lot of our friends on twitter and Psynister brought me into a conversation by saying that since it was a PvP focused game, we wouldn’t be playing it. Now, if any of you know him, you know that he lives, eats, breaths, dreams PvP. I replied that he was making me sound mean and that if he really wanted to try it he could, as long as he didn’t stop playing #SWTOR with me.
That’s when our fabulous twitter friends told us we had it all wrong. While the PvP was exciting to talk about because of the way it’s being done differently, it was far from the main focus. In fact, there would be plenty of PvE things to keep me occupied. We both went very quickly from disinterested to anticipating with everything that we saw or read about the way the game worked. Many of the features we saw seemed tailor-made to our playstyles. That’s when we decided that we needed to check it out and started pestering anyone who would listen about getting beta invites so we could check it out before committing to buying the game.
Disclaimer: While this was certainly our reason for seeking beta access, I want to be clear that both of us are serious about beta testing as well. We weren’t just taking beta slots to check it out, but actively participated in testing. We filled out every survey that popped up and reported several bugs.
After scoring some beta invites (Psynister via twitter, myself via one of my awesome SWTOR guildies) we prepared for a weekend filled with games. Unfortunately for Psynister, his plans were severely cut down because he was busy helping his dad help us by fixing the drywall in our kitchen that is in the middle of an unexpected renovation. I know he’s going to be posting his own opinions from his more limited play time, but here are mine.
It should come as no surprise that I maxed out my five character slots while checking everything out this weekend. In fact, I also deleted and re-rolled one slot, so I made a total of six characters. It was my first and only Guild Wars 2 beta weekend and I had to check as much out as possible to decide if I wanted to buy the game.
Nyevnen, leaf chick
My first character was a Sylvari Elementalist. Love the Elementalist. I think my favorite elements were fire and earth, using a staff. While I think it’s cool that your abilities change depending on what weapon you’re using, it also has some drawbacks (more on that later). As the first racial area that I explored, I really enjoyed it. Initially, it was difficult to find my character’s connection, but I really began to hate the Nightmare Court for what they were doing to corrupt the Sylvari. Also, it was beautiful there!
Ill-fated thief, Fynralyl
My second character was an Asura Thief. Asura as small, cute and a little on the creepy side. I’m not sure why, but their teeth scare me a little. Kind of like a Gizmo that hasn’t turned into a gremlin yet. I mostly got past that by the end of the weekend. I really liked my little thief. The dagger abilities were a lot of fun. I was using a dagger in my main hand and a pistol in the offhand for the first three levels. Then, just as I got a main hand upgrade (a second pistol) I tried to go into my first instanced personal story and crashed to desktop. It was beta afterall. Unfortunately, the crash locked me down pretty hard on that character. Any time I tried to load her, I would get an error related to not finding the affected mission. I opened a ticket for her on my Sylvari and got to work on other characters. Late in the day on Sunday, I tried again and CS had bumped her out of the instance so I excitedly tried her again. And hated it. I didn’t like the abilities of the pistol/pistol combination nearly as much as the dagger/pistol abilities. It made me very sad since I had sold my nice dagger and I simply stopped having fun. Also, my husband had progressed on his Asura Elementalist and I didn’t want to make him come back with downgraded abilities just to help me out. So she was eventually deleted to make room for another character.
Kturra, the short-lived
My third character was a Charr Warrior. I don’t think I got her past level two. She looked cool and what I remember of her abilities, they weren’t bad. I don’t know if it was just that it was late and I was tired or if I was just having a hard time getting into her story, but she just kind of stayed there.
Lindria Lorlach, & her friend Gale
My fourth character was a Human Ranger. I needed a character that had the highest potential of solo play because hubby was working with his dad for most of the weekend and I figured having a pet would help with that. I really liked both the human story as well as the ranger playstyle. She was only one of two characters that passed level 10 (not by much) and I liked being able to swap between her axes and her bow depending on which abilities I needed. This was one case where the differing weapon abilities was a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the city and the surrounding environs. I also really wanted a chance to flirt with that Seraph leader. Yum. Alas, it was not to be. Lindria is also the only one who had her image captured.
My fifth character was a Norn Engineer. I really like the depth of the Norn area, even though I didn’t get her very far along. Not a huge fan of the Engineer, though. My perception of the Norn area visually and content in the first few levels, is that it felt like a combination of Dwarf, Tauren and Vrykul from WoW. The best parts of all three. Absolutely loved the hair options when customizing my girl.
Asura take #2, Aelsynia
Remember I said I deleted the Thief? I had to roll another character in her place. This time my Asura was a Guardian and she was a little more cute/less creepy than her predecessor. The Guardian doesn’t have as many damaging abilities, at least in the first few levels, so she felt more like a support character. Her survivability was really good though because she had great combinations of healing and defensive abilities, so it’s a profession I think I may try when it comes to release time.
Overall, I really enjoyed the game visually. One of my favorite things to do was to hunt Vistas, cutscenes that took some figuring to get to, but really showed off the artwork. I also really enjoyed how highly customizable the characters were. I also loved most of the gear (and the ability to change colors to suit my taste)! In fact, that’s why I took the one screen shot that I did. I really loved the bandit costume my Ranger got to wear and was really sad that I didn’t get to keep it. In fact, here’s another picture of it, just because it’s the only other screen shot I got.
Gale likes to rawr at Lindria, in case you couldn’t tell.
I also loved how explorable the world felt. You don’t have to get very far in before you start seeing that you can any of several different paths to continue your leveling experience. I’m looking forward to see everything eventually. For a completionist like me, I felt encouraged to check everything out and tick them off on my map lists. Being rewarded with more than just experience certainly helps.
One thing I had looked forward to, but found annoying was the “sidekick” effect. Designed to allow higher level characters to go back and help lower level friends while still being challenged as if the quests were “at level”, Psynister and I both were really excited to see it in action. It would be perfect for a couple like us that often gets out of sync because one plays a little more than another. Unfortunately, it doesn’t bring you down to the lowest level in the party, but the level of the quest. Since we were both doing all of the hearts, vistas, points of interest and events, we were outpacing the quests around us. We were level 10, but both of our effective levels were 8. I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I want to go to a lower level area to relax, farm, etc. This basically takes that aspect away. I wish that it would simply have an on/off switch in the interface, so players could decide when they wanted their effective level reduced or stay overpowered.
Even with the handful of gripes I have, there’s still plenty to interest me in the game, so we’ve decided to buy it. I think it’s going to be a great game and while the story itself isn’t compelling enough to pull me away from SWTOR, it’s going to be a fun playground to mess around in.
TL&DR: Didn’t think I would like GW2, videos got me interested, scored beta invite, I made a lot of characters, had fun on most, think the world is very pretty, will buy the game to explore it all, was disappointed by the effective level reduction feature, but buying the game!